DrSugar Answers: Hormonal Imbalance and Obesity?


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Dear DrSugar,
For the past four years, I can't seem to lose weight despite previously losing 90 pounds through diet and exercise. I know my body and think I might have some kind of imbalance. Can you advice me on how to approach this subject with a doctor, like: What kinds of questions should I ask, what kind of tests should I request. I want some real answers? Something is not right with me, but I can't get anyone to talk to me about it. Thank you!

This is not the only question of this nature that I received recently. To see my answer, just read more.

I find that weight issues are often the most frustrating problems for patients. Some people just cannot lose weight despite diet, exercise, and sometimes even more drastic measures. For most people, problems with obesity and weight gain are directly related to dietary issues, inactivity, and genetic predisposition. However, some people, who have long and frustrating battles with weight problems, actually have underlying hormone imbalances that make it nearly impossible to lose weight. Hormonal syndromes resulting in weight gain are thought to affect up to one to two percent of the population and are often overlooked due to under recognition in the medical community. Because weight problems are so common and usually related to lifestyle issues, it is easy for doctors to under diagnose hormonal disorders.

There are a number of hormone disorders that can cause weight gain and chronic inability to lose weight. The most common syndromes include Growth hormone deficiency, Cushing’s syndrome, and Hypothyroidism. Each syndrome has its own unique features and rarely is weight gain the only symptom. For example, growth hormone deficiency is associated with short stature, thin and dry skin, low muscle mass and mainly abdominal body fat. Cushing’s syndrome can lead to sweating, high blood pressure, depression, anxiety, and stretch marks. Hypothyroidism often causes mental slowing, intolerance to cold, fatigue, and constipation.

If you are obese or very overweight, it is important to seek help because you are at higher risk for diabetes, heart disease and many other medical problems. The good news is that if you have one of these disorders, treatment will often lead to weight loss and improved overall health. If you have any of the symptoms listed, have battled weight problems many years, have gained weight very quickly or are considering more aggressive weight loss methods, such as gastric bypass surgery then I suggest talking to your doctor about the possibility of hormonal testing. For more information check out the website Obesity In America, a good all around resource.

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DrSugar's posts are for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment recommendations. Click here for more details.

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